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Google Links Bonuses To Social Strategy

Incoming CEO Larry Page seeks to provide an incentive for social success.

Google is getting serious about integrating social computing capabilities into its services.

Online news site Business Insider reports that Google CEO Larry Page, in an internal memo distributed last Friday, has tied 2011 employee bonuses to the success of the company's social strategy. The memo, titled "2011 Bonus Multiplier," describes how employee bonuses will be modified up or down by as much as 25%, depending on the company's execution of its social strategy.

In support of its report, Business Insider published a screenshot of what appears to be a Google FAQ page describing bonus computation.

Google declined a request to confirm the authenticity of the memo. "We don't comment on compensation matters," a company spokesperson said in an email.

The company has just completed a major reorganization of its executives that suggests social computing capabilities will be emphasized even more so than in the past. Vic Gundotra, who has played a prominent role in the evangelism of Google's Web and mobile products, has been promoted from VP of engineering to SVP of social. That in and of itself underscores Google's commitment to making its services more social.

Google recently launched a significant social initiative, its +1 button, which is widely seen as an answer to Facebook's Like button. Through the +1 button, Google hopes to gather valuable Internet usage data and to use that information to calibrate delivery of personalized content from the company and its partners. Online social tools in general provide a way for companies to understand their customers better.

While it's too early to tell whether the +1 button will be a success, Google's previous social efforts, like its Buzz service, have been underwhelming, at least compared to Facebook.

Facebook's rise and its attractiveness to Google engineers was a major reason that Google recently increased base salaries for its employees by 10% and shifted non-executive compensation from bonuses to salary increases. That shift may mitigate the impact of Page's bonus multiplier among those at the bottom of Google's hierarchy.

Facebook on Thursday announced that it is making its data center design specifications available to the public and that it had achieved a power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.07, meaning that only 7% of incoming energy is wasted on cooling and power distribution. Were you inclined to see technical one-upmanship in this news, you might recall that Google has said that its best published data center PUE rating is 1.1.

So while Google is rushing to catch up with Facebook in the social arena, it will have to defend its carefully cultivated reputation as the home of the best and the brightest.

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